2007 Nelson Poetry Book Award:
Larry Rochelle, District 2, Pittsboro, N.C.
Poet and mystery writer Larry Rochelle has lived in Kansas since 1978 with brief stops in Missouri and Texas in between. He earned degrees from Toledo, Dayton, and Baker College. Along the way he taught high school for 13 years and college English for 29, mostly at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, KS.
He is now semi-retired and living in North Carolina with his wife Ruth. They have four grown children: Nick, Doug, Dave and Heather. His last book of Kansas poetry, Arrow, written during 2006-2007, was published in April 2007. He is writing a new Palmer Morel mystery, Murder on 15/501, and a poetry book full of North Carolina images called Burnt Coffee, which should be available in Spring 2008.
Judge’s statement :
The strongest impressions through Larry Rochelle’s Home Schooled are those of a writer connected to place. That awareness of being from a place, that sense of connectedness navigates through a landscape of hardware stores, tornados, or an old Kansas where sharks died near Salina.
His observations are not Emerson’s floating “dissociated eyeballs” but an invitation to shared insight and to vistas cleared of distractions. Here can be found the whispering of people loved, hated or merely being witness to pancake syrup dripping off/ the edge of a platter.
Impressions of experience remain like footprints in cement, or evoke smothered passions and resentments. Tales of families are found as in “Off Old Osawatomie Road,” where father and son contend within the breath of alcohol-impaired lives.
Rochelle is a writer who delights in words and commands the vocabulary to construct concrete, tactile images, and to transform words and details into specificity: a scud of puffballs; or purple thistles/ rock gently spilling seeds into culverts.
Metaphors can be found as well, such as in “Gestation” with its second stanza: your motives transparent, what/ did you expect, some/ twirling universe/ topped with morning glories? And that double entendre can be seen blooming inside those ‘morning glories.’
Words well done and delivered!
2007 Judge: David Leo Tangeman is a native Kansan. His volume of poetry and prose, Gathering Reunion, was winner of The J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award in 1996. Another collection of poetry, The Black Cow, was privately published. His career as an educator spans decades and includes high school students, severely multiply handicapped students, college students, and students with behavior disorders. He has also acted over the years in Topeka theaters, most recently performing with The Karen Hastings Players’ production of T. S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral. He has presented many programs at District 1 meetings.